Tool’s album hits Billboard 200, showcases talent

‘Fear Inoculum’ introduces band’s new sound, breaks decade of silence

On the Billboard Top 200, an unlikely guest has swooped in and has been at the top spot since their new album’s debut on Aug. 30. The progressive rock band Tool released their newest creation, “Fear Inoculum,” after 13 years of not producing any new music. Even though it was a long wait, fans of the band immediately jumped at the chance to listen to the new album, which takes the listener on a full journey.

“Fear Inoculum” quickly stands out from other albums released around the same time by offering the listener over an entire hour of music, condensed into only 10 songs. The first two songs of the album, “Fear Inoculum” and “Pneuma,” together are 20 minutes long. Only four of the songs on the album are less than 10 minutes long, and the longest song, “7empest,” is over 15 minutes long. Even though the album has a long duration, it does not take away from the quality of music, which Tool expertly delivers in the album.

As in other albums produced by the band, Tool created its new album with a psychedelic and progressive sound. “Fear Inoculum” does not disappoint fans who love Tool’s original sound, but it also adds more interesting dynamics that were once seldomly found in the band’s older songs. The use of multiple tempo transitions, the switching of instruments midway through songs and the different vocal styles of Maynard James Keenan create an experience that makes the hour-long album too interesting not to finish.

“Pneuma” is one of the songs on the album that really touches on these changes. The song starts off very mellow with slow guitar riffs and accompanying drum beats that are elevated by Keenan’s vocals, which are overlapped to give an echo effect. This opening gives the song a melodic feel, which is then quickly changed with heavy basslines, the addition of a synthesizer and a quick tempo shift for the drummer, who adds the use of bongo drums along with his standard drum set. The application of so many different instruments really makes the song feel like a complete journey alone, which normally is how the album is supposed to feel with all the songs combined.

Even though the band usually includes rock songs on their albums, Tool adds another hidden gem called “Litanie contre la Peur.” This song does not rely on the band’s normal instrument line up as it brings in only one instrument: a synthesizer. This instrument was unexpected, especially since the first two songs gave so much variation. However, it is oddly enjoyable to listen to. The added layering of different synth notes along with added editing features gives the listener a song that seems to have come from some type of science fiction movie.

“Invincible,” the fourth song on the album, returns to the original style Tool is known for. The intense and quick drumming, the use of tempo change for the guitars along with the use of the twang bar, which is a lever on a guitar that distorts the sound, to give long notes and the added vocals give fans who have been waiting so long a taste of what Tool is known for. However, an added bonus is the guitar solo in the middle of the song, which is different than most solos in rock music. Tool put this solo in the background and allowed the drums and rhythm guitar to be in the foreground, which then leads into a stunning solo by Danny Carey, who reaches a pace that not many can match.

“7empest” is the highlight of this album. With today’s songs normally sitting around three to four minutes, it’s hard for a song that is 15 minutes long to attract listeners. However, this song is definitely worth a listen. Its attention to detail surpasses the others on the album. So much is added in the song that it alone is a full and complete journey, which is surprising due to the open session vibes it gives off. The entire song sounds like the band had an overall idea but allowed their expressive nature to form the notes in the moment, meanwhile continuing to work together to form a fluid but captivating song.

The most unique song from this album would have to be “Chocolate Chip Trip.” This song really dives into the psychedelic nature of the band. The rich and vibrant percussion sounds mix with the synthesizer perfectly to give an otherworldly feeling. The feeling only continues as the song starts to play around with electronic beats with the accompany of Carey’s drums. This song allows Carey to have fun and open up in what seems to be about a five-minute drum solo that keeps the listener engaged and in “awe.”

Overall, this album is a fantastic addition to Tool’s discography. However, large amounts of changes that the band presents through this album kind of take away from the essence of what fans have come to know. It is a great change of pace, but it would have been nice to hear a bit more of the heavy distortion, quick drums and powerful vocals that have made the band so popular. Even though the album does change up a lot, it gives the audience the desire now to hear more albums like it, which provides a type of resurgence for the band who has been quiet for over a decade.